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Pay and pension dispute staff take more action ahead of talks

National Union of Journalists members at the North West Evening Mail were today due to down tools in an ongoing dispute over pay and pensions.

Last week more than 30 newsroom staff walked out to attend a day-long disruptive mandatory chapel meeting, and voted to hold another meeting today.

Union representatives from the Barrow-based newspaper are due to meet with management from parent-company CN Group on Wednesday, but members say the offer currently on the table was not detailed enough to call off the action.

At sister newspapers the Carlisle News & Star, Cumberland News and Whitehaven News, members have voted to suspend action to allow negotiations to continue on Wednesday in a separate meeting with CN Group management.

CN Group chief executive Robin Burgess declined to comment when contacted by HoldtheFrontPage.

NUJ northern organiser Chris Morley, who was due to attend the chapel meeting at Barrow today, said the company had made two offers – one to Barrow and one to Carlisle and Whitehaven, both of which revolve around a two-year deal.

He said both offers were an “inflation-beating figure” but that final details had yet to be thrashed out, and at Barrow work was being done by the company to put right “historical anomalies” over bandings.

There is also a suggestion that next year’s pay negotiations could be brought forward from January to October.

Chris said: “We have been assured that the company understands the anger members feel and is working towards a system that will meet their concerns.”

The dispute began when CN Group announced it was to close its final-salary pension scheme. A new defined contribution pension scheme was introduced last month.

Members say the three per cent pay rise they received this year has been a pay cut in real terms because the new pension scheme requires more contributions and national insurance payments and have been calling for more to be done to compensate them.

Chris said: “The NUJ is working hard to get a resolution to the dispute which has brought to a head the level of anger that members felt at the company ending its final salary pension scheme.” Do you have a story about the regional press?
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